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Judy More talks baby and toddler nutrition

Colief’s Online Clinic takes place fortnightly and is hosted by a member of the Colief Expert Panel. The panel includes GP Dr Jumoke Thomas, child psychologist Maggie Redshaw, paediatric dietician Judy More and health visitor Dawn Kelly.

The second clinic was hosted by paediatric dietitian Judy More and discussed the topic of baby and toddler nutrition. There were many questions about fussy eaters, weaning and vitamin supplements.

The next clinic will take place on Thursday 13th August from 1pm to 2pm (BST) with child psychologist Dr Maggie Redshaw on Facebook.com/ColiefCare

Here’s a reminder of what was covered at the clinic.

Q. My son refuses to drink water so I give him squash at the moment, is this okay and how much is too much?

A. Ideally you should encourage your son to drink water by drinking it yourself and offering it to him at the same time. However if your son is not getting any liquids as a result, I’d suggest that you give him very diluted fruit juice (one part juice to 10 parts water) with meals. Serving it with a meal helps to reduce the risk of tooth decay.

Q. I only have skimmed milk and other low fat dairy items in the house for me and my family as they are healthier but my sister told me she only gives her son full fat varieties as its better for him. Is this true?

A. Full fat varieties contain more vitamin A which is important for the immune system. This is why full fat varieties are recommended for children under two years. Although children can change to lower fat varieties from two years it is fine to keep them on the full fat varieties. They will benefit from the extra vitamin A.

Q. How can I encourage my daughter to eat more and different types of foods? It’s really hard at the moment as she will only eat one or two different things.

A. You don’t say how old your little one is but rest assured that many toddlers can be fussy about what they will and will not eat. This is a normal stage of development where they are careful about only eating foods that look familiar to them. Toddlers pass through this phase by eating in social groups either with the family or with other children. With time they copy others and begin to eat a wider range of foods that they see other people eating. So remain calm and give her the foods she will eat but continue to offer the foods you would like her to eat. It is best to do this by eating with her and eating the foods you would like her to begin eating. She may try them from your plate before she is brave enough to begin eating them herself. Encourage her to feed herself and giving finger foods makes this easier. Often fussy toddlers like plain dry foods that are all kept separate and not mixed together.

Q. I use jars and pouches when out and about with my twins but I know they’re not that healthy. Is it ok to have them occasionally?

A. Baby food in jars or packets can be handy when you are out and about. However portion sizes are often too big and much of it has the same texture. This may make it harder for your baby to accept more varied textures and flavours and to move to family foods as they get older. You’ll already know that homemade food made from simple ingredients with no added sugar or salt is best, but it is ok to opt for pouches and jars from time to time.

Q. My little girl is six months old, but will still only use a bottle, is this normal? When should she be able to use a cup?

A. Cups can be introduced from around six months to offer sips of water with meals. Using an open cup or a free flow cup without a valve will help your little girl learn to sip and is also better for her teeth.

Q. I’ve read a bit about vitamin D but was never told anything about it by my doctor. My kids eat well already so is there any need for them take a vitamin D supplement?

A. Vitamin D is vital for developing strong teeth and bones and a healthy immune system. Sunlight is the main source of vitamin D because oily fish is the only food that is a good source although eggs also provide a small amount. Few of us get enough vitamin D from sunlight on our skin when we are outside because in the UK we can only make it in the summer months from about April to September. As a result of this, government advice is that certain groups, including pregnant and breastfeeding women and children from six months to five years of age, should take vitamin D supplements. This policy is now under review and it is likely that the government will soon recommend it for everyone.

Q. Should I insist my little boy eats broccoli even though he refuses to eat it?

A. Broccoli, like other vegetables, provides vitamins A, C and folate (naturally occurring folic acid). Just offer it to him when you or others are eating it and he may eventually learn to like it. Toddlers learn by copying so it is important that you eat it when eating with him and say you like it. However learning to like certain tastes takes much longer in toddlers than it does during weaning. If he eats other vegetables then it doesn’t matter that he doesn’t eat broccoli.

Q. What are the ideal first foods to start off feeding my daughter with?

A. Begin with some smooth mashed or puréed cooked fruit or vegetables or some baby cereal mixed with your baby’s usual milk. Cooked parsnip, potato, yam, sweet potato, carrot, apple or pear, all cooled before eating are ideal first foods. You could also try soft fruit like peach, melon, ripe banana or avocado as finger foods or mashed.

Q. How can I tell when my baby is ready to start moving on to solids?

A. Usually babies are ready for more than just milk feeds any time between 4 and 6 months of age. Signs that will indicate your baby is ready for solid foods include: being able to stay in a sitting position with support and hold their head steady, putting toys and other objects in their mouth, seeming hungry between milk feeds and watching with interest when other people are eating. Large baby boys are often ready for weaning sooner than small girls because boys grow slightly more quickly than girls.

Judy More is a registered dietician and registered nutritionist who specialises in child nutrition. She is an honorary lecturer at Plymouth University and a member of the Royal Society of Medicine, the Association for Nutrition and SENSE Nutrition.

Judy set up her Child Nutrition consultancy after many years of experience working as a paediatric dietician in NHS hospitals and community trust